The transition of the Maoist insurgents into a governing party is now complete in Nepal: Prime Minister Pushpa kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ took the oath of office today.
After four months of what Rising Nepal describes as “gruelling power sharing negotiations,” the Constituent Assembly (which will function as an interim parliament until the new constitution is complete and new elections are held) had elected Prachanda to the premiership last week.
The Assembly had previously stunned the Maoists by electing Ram Baran Yadav as president in the newly created republic. Yadav, backed by the established parties from Nepal’s previous electoral periods, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal, had defeated the Maoist presidential candidate by a vote of 308-282.
While the presidency should be mostly ceremonial given the parliamentary form of Nepal’s interim governing arrangements, the non-Maoist parties combined to prevent the Maoist candidate from winning the presidency. The Maoists apparently had expected that their plurality of votes and seats1 would ensure them of both the presidency and the prime ministership, but the presidential selection process gave them an immediate lesson in the workings of parliamentary democracy. Nonetheless, now they have the most important post. In fact, the accord that resulted in Prachanda’s premiership was so widely supported–though lacking support of the Nepali Congress–that Prachanda received 80% of the Assembly’s votes in favor of his candidacy. Rising Nepal reports:
Eight political parties including CPN-UML, Madheshi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF), Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Anandidevi), Communist Party of Nepal (Ekata Kendra), Janamukti Party, CPN (United), Nepa: Rastriya Party and Nepali Janata Dal had supported his candidacy.
Delivering their speech during the proposing and seconding the candidacy of Prachanda, leaders of those parties stated that they supported Prachanda as per the peopleâ€™s mandate.
UML general secretary Jhalanath Khanal said that UML supported Prachandaâ€™s candidacy respecting peopleâ€™s mandate. “CPN-Maoist has expressed commitment to implement all past agreements reached among the seven parties and follow democratic process in the new government,” he said pleading the reasons for the support to the CPN-Maoist.
Khanal said that the national government could not be formed after NC refused to join a Maoist-led government at the last hour even after it was offered Defence Ministry, which NC had been claiming for.2
Now comes the hard part: governing, and drafting a full constitution!